State auditor ‘optimistic’ he’ll get JobsOhio records

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost said Wednesday he “fully anticipates” JobsOhio, the state’s semi-private economic development agency, will fulfill his subpoena demanding its financial records.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Republican leaders in the Ohio legislature and officials with JobsOhio have told reporters that Yost can see the millions in tax dollars that have gone to JobsOhio since it was created in 2011 to promote economic development in Ohio.

But all have drawn the line at allowing Yost to see the millions in private donations and other funding sources JobsOhio also received.

JobsOhio has not formally notified the auditor’s office that it opposes the subpoena, Yost said.

“A subpoena is complied with in certain formal channels of communications,” Yost said. “We don’t have a letter saying they disagree with it, or a motion to quash (a request for a judge to dismiss it) or anything, so I’m eternally optimistic.”

Yost issued the subpoena last week after negotiations between his office and JobsOhio broke down, setting up the public confrontation between Yost and other top Republicans. The subpoena gives JobsOhio until March 19 to respond.

Kasich told reporters Wednesday that he and Yost have talked about the issue. But when asked, said he has “not really” communicated with JobsOhio to tell them how to handle the subpoena.

“All I can tell you is there are discussions going on. I’ve encouraged them, and I’ve talked to the auditor myself,” Kasich said. “Our goal is the same: to have an open and accountable JobsOhio.”

Yost also cited accountability when asked why his office wants to see JobsOhio’s private donations and other funding.

“Look, our concern is for accountability and transparency,” Yost said. “But the nexus for the money (going to JobsOhio) is so close to its public source, and there are so many public actions involved, we believe it ought to be treated as public money.”

The exact amount in taxpayer money that has gone to JobsOhio remains unclear. The Ohio Development Services Agency, which has awarded grants to JobsOhio, has still not fulfilled a request made last Thursday seeking the total amount.

Todd Walker, a DSA spokesman, said Wednesday he continues to work on compiling a response.

A private audit of JobsOhio released earlier this year indicates $5.7 million in state grants went to JobsOhio between July 2011 and July 2012. The same audit reported JobsOhio received $6.9 million in private donations during that time.